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Originally published January 19, 2014

Sasheer Zamata Makes 'SNL' Debut

First Black Female Cast Member Since '07

by Associated Press

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    27-year-old comedian and improv performer, Sasheer Zamata. Photo/sasheer.com (Courtesy Photo)

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NEW YORK (AP) — Sasheer Zamata made a low-key but notable debut on "Saturday Night Live" as the first black female cast member since 2007.

As usual for a "SNL" newcomer, Zamata kept a low profile on Saturday's broadcast. She participated in sketches in roles including Rihanna and a teenager at a slumber party.

The 27-year-old comedian and improv performer was signed earlier this month in the wake of criticism of "SNL" for its lack of ethnic diversity. Black male cast members Kenan Thompson and Jay Pharoah were among those voicing complaints last fall.

The NBC series has had only four black women cast members in its 39 seasons.

The most recent was Maya Rudolph. The biracial actress left in 2007.

The show has also recently hired two black female writers.